[Science Update] Maternal diet and HMO profile

4 min read /
General Nutrition Obstetrics / Gynaecology Paediatrics

In this study, the association between maternal nutrition and human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) profile in mature human milk was investigated. Human milk samples of healthy mothers (n = 101) from the Maternal Microbes (MAMI) cohort* was analyzed. Maternal dietary information and perinatal factors from the same group of subjects were recorded.

Maternal secretor status

  • Secretors: 75% (76 out of 101), presence of 2’-FL and LNFP-I
  • Non-secretors: 25% (25 out of 101), near absence (< 100 nmol mL-1) of 2’-FL and LNFP-I
  • HMO levels were dependent on maternal secretor status
    • Secretors: higher total HMO levels (p < 0.001) and HMO-bound fucose (p < 0.001); higher presence of 2’-FL (p < 0.001), DFL (p < 0.001), LNFP-I (p < 0.001), LNFP-II (p < 0.001), LNFP-III (p < 0.001), LST c (p < 0.001), DFLNT (p < 0.001), DFLNH (p < 0.001)  and some sialylated HMOs such as 3’-SL (p = 0.010), 6’-SL (p < 0.001) and FDS-LNH (p < 0.001)  
    • Non-secretors: higher levels of 3’-FL (p < 0.001)
  • Maternal nutrient intakes and HMO profiles were associated with maternal secretor status
    • Secretors
      • Higher levels of total HMOs were associated with lower maternal intakes of insoluble fiber, cellulose, hemicellulose, and (poly)phenols
      • Higher levels of 2’-FL and lower levels of 3’-FL were associated with higher intakes of fructose and galactose
      • Fiber and (poly)phenols were the dietary components that contributed significantly to HMO concentrations
    • Non-secretors
      • Lower dietary intakes of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) were associated with higher levels of LNFP-III (p = 0.047), LNH (p = 0.015), FLNH (p = 0.042) and FDS-LNH (p = 0.042)
      • Dietary consumption of starch was negatively associated with DFLNT (p = 0.043) and LNFP-II (p = 0.016)

Relationship between maternal dietary consumption and HMO profiles

  • Various types of carbohydrates and (poly)phenols were the main driving factors of secretor HMO profiles
    • Secretor HMO profiles were associated with (poly)phenols (p = 0.001), both soluble (p = 0.028) and insoluble fibers (p = 0.003), as well as several insoluble polysaccharides such as insoluble cellulose (p = 0.005), hemicellulose (p = 0.005) and pectin (p = 0.015)
  • Mothers with a Cluster I HMO profile had higher dietary intakes of insoluble fibers than those in Cluster II (p = 0.007) and Cluster III (p = 0.007)^
  • Cluster III^ was associated with maternal dietary consumption of saturated fatty acids (SFA) and animal proteins
  • Cluster I^ was associated with (poly)phenols, fibers, hemicellulose, cellulose and pectin

Modest effects of maternal diets on non-secretors’ HMO profiles

  • Maternal diets had less pronounced effects on the overall structure of the HMO pattern in non-secretor mothers when compared to secretor mothers

*It refers to a prospective and observational mother-infant cohort in Spanish Mediterranean area
^Cluster I: higher levels of LNH, FLNH, DSLNH and FDS-LNH
  Cluster II: higher levels of 3’-FL and DFLNT
  Cluster III: higher levels of LNFP-I

2’-FL = 2’-Fucosyllactose; LNFP-I = Lacto-N-Fucopentaose I; DFL = Difucosyllactose; LNFP-II = Lacto-N-Fucopentaose II; LNFP-III = Lacto-N-Fucopentaose III; LST c = Sialyllacto-N-Neotetraose c; DFLNT = Difucosyllacto-N-Tetraose; 3’-SL = 3’-Sialyllactose; 6’-SL = 6’-Sialyllactose; FDS-LNH = Fucosyl-Disialyl-Lacto-N-Hexaose; LNH = Lacto-N-Hexaose; FLNH = Fucosyl-LNH; DSLNH = Disialyllacto-N-Hexaose


Link to the full article:


Selma-Royo M et al. Maternal diet is associated with human milk oligosaccharide profile. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2022;e2200058.

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